The world has been heavy hearted lately when it comes to its athletes.
Jose Fernandez the 24-year-old Marlins’ pitcher who died in a boating accident is joined by UFC fighter Josh Samman at 28. These athletes have left the world behind, but have left us their legacies to remember.
Samman was found face down in his home Sept. 28 with his roommate dead on the floor next to him. He was taken to the hospital where he died while in a coma on Oct. 5.
The death of the two predominant athletes who had a chance to prove themselves in their divisions only calls to question who the next Samman or Fernandez will be.
Young athletes cut down prematurely is no new song to sports, with players like Len Bias or Hank Gathers having promising careers ended before they turned 25.
In 2009, Chico faced its own tragedy with the loss of 18-year-old Nicholas Brian Garber, a Chico High football player. Garber ended his life despite having a promising career in athletics by ingesting ibuprofen and over-the-counter painkillers, according to an article in the Chico Enterprise-Record.
In Samman’s case, nothing of importance could be found in the toxicology report because, by the time he was found, too much time had passed.
The stress and expectation young athletes are meant to live up to is the true killer, as Samman is suspected to have relapsed into his drug addiction. Samman had a history of suicidal thoughts after his girlfriend’s death in 2013, according to his autobiography “The Housekeeper.”
If John Elway had failed in the 1987 Superbowl, it’s without question that he would not sit as the head of the organization today. The difficulty of the game gave Elway motivation to succeed but could have ended the rookie quarterbacks career early.
Young athletes are pushed more than ever before with the world of sports rapidly changing and while Fernandez was the result of an unfortunate accident, Samman most likely was self-inflicted.
The fighter had a rough few years, and because of the stress and guilt, it’s speculated that he may have overdosed.
The death of an athlete is always tragic but gives the world of sports a moment to reflect on what caused the incident. In Samman’s case, it was internal problems that led him to the grave, none of which make the topic any less heart-breaking.
The stress put on young athletes to perform at the next level can be a great motivator, but also pushes them to an early grave. With the sporting world taking severe hits in the recent deaths of predominate athletes, it’s important to focus on the athletes emotional and mental health as much as their physical health.
Danielle Pubill can be reached at [email protected] or @daniellepubill1 on Twitter.